The solution will be piloted at three East Coast natural gas utilities, starting in Q1 2011.
The Control Room Management solution is in direct response to the Control Room Management/Human Factors mandate from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that requires companies transporting natural gas and other gases as well as hazardous liquids by pipeline to comply with minimum safety standards. The PHMSA regulation, 49 CFR Part 192 and 49 CFR Part 195 specifies procedural guidelines around access to information, alarm and change management, fatigue mitigation, operating experience, training, compliance validation, and compliance deviation. The government is hoping to reduce risk and improve safety during the transportation of hazardous gases and liquids. The deadline for compliance to these regulations was accelerated by 18 months, so companies must have plans and procedures in place for compliance by August 2011 and implemented by February 2012.
"With companies scrambling to determine how to comply with this mandate, S3 Development is on the leading edge," said Sheila Kester, General Manager of Operations Management Software for GE Intelligent Platforms. "As a leading technology and consulting company in the natural gas industry, their solution will take all parts of the mandate into account, allowing companies to capture events and trigger the necessary Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for action – whether related to alarm management, operator duty cycles and fatigue mitigation or change management. This application plays to the strengths of GE’s Proficy Software solutions, helping companies achieve success through compliance by providing a model for what global companies could do to reduce risk."
Proficy Workflow is the foundation for similar compliance-related solutions in use at water and wastewater municipalities as well as other end users in diverse industries. The software easily layers on GE’s award-winning HMI/SCADA systems, iFIX and CIMPLICITY – and integrates with third-party SCADA and other software systems. The S3 solution, which layers on top of iFIX, is expected to incorporate other pieces of the Proficy Software Platform including Proficy Historian and Real-Time Information Portal.
The Control Room Management solution begins with a step-by-step plan on how to conform to the mandate. It leverages the Work Model capabilities within Proficy Workflow to flowchart and digitize the standard operating procedures, guide and track operator steps, trigger workflows as needed, and record what steps are taken and by whom. Reporting functionality is also critical to this mandate as companies must show PHMSA that they have responded appropriately to the order, so the solution can generate reports to not only ease compliance, but also improve processes.
"Proficy Workflow fits this mandate perfectly," said Paul Thoman, Chief Technology Officer for S3 Development. "The software allows companies to capture events - whether a problem in the natural gas system or a problem in shifts, and trigger workflows to perform the necessary procedures for the right action at the right time. This will help bring companies into compliance with PHMSA and reduce the risk of disasters by operating within safe limits."
As an example, Proficy Workflow, for a single emergency, can track multiple procedures and personnel, and record details of each step in the procedure. When a process is triggered, because of an alarm, or a defined action, GE Workflow Software can step through the process based on prescribed procedures built by capturing best-practice and controller expertise as digitized workflows. In the event of an emergency, a workflow can be initiated, and the controller can be guided through a series of steps to determine if emergency services should be notified. And, at the end of a shift, if a task is in process, that outstanding work can be apparent in the Workflow application. The steps completed and yet to be accomplished, can be viewed and discussed by the controllers.
In addition, by using workflows to facilitate alarm management, the operator can also determine if a controller is inadvertently causing alarms to occur because of flawed equipment manipulation. And, by setting up alerts with expected time limits allows the operator to be reminded that a signal is off scan, alarm inhibited or manual values need to be returned to normal.
Proficy is an example of how GE’s $4 billion-a-year software and solutions services businesses are helping customers improve productivity.
For more information: www.ge-ip.com/operationsmanagement.
GE Intelligent Platforms - www.ge-ip.com